BC first jurisdiction in North America to offer legal, online casino games

    
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       Regulated site keeps up to $100 million spent offshore in B.C.
    

VANCOUVER, July 15 /CNW/ - BCLC announced today the addition of online casino games to PlayNow.com, British Columbia's gambling website.

"We want to ensure money gambled in British Columbia stays in the province to benefit British Columbians," said Minister of Housing and Social Development, Rich Coleman. "We're going to redirect that money towards a variety of programs and services that support taxpayers and result in better health care, higher education and improved infrastructure."

Globally, online gambling is a $20 billion dollar industry. British Columbia's share of this global market is estimated to be $100 million a year that was going to illegal, offshore gambling sites. The amount of money wagered online each year is presently increasing at approximately 11 per cent annually.

PlayNow.com players can now access the online games launched today in five categories; Casino, Bingo, Sports, Lottery and Games. Within each portfolio are a variety of games; for instance Casino features slot games as well as table games like Blackjack, Roulette, Sicbo, Craps, Baccarat and many more. Peer-to-peer online poker will be added later this year.

PlayNow.com generated $34 million in revenue for BCLC in 2009/10, comprising 1% of BCLC's total revenue. This number is expected to increase to 4% of total revenue by 2014 and result in approximately $100 million in additional revenue.

"Given the preferences of our customers and the popularity of online gambling, offering casino games on PlayNow.com is a natural next step for our business," says BCLC President and CEO, Michael Graydon. "BCLC has been providing gambling in British Columbia for 25 years and online since 2004. The online gambling industry is not new; tapping into this existing market to provide a safe, secure and regulated alternative operated in B.C. is a sensible decision."

"PlayNow.com also offers the most control with our responsible gambling initiatives. It is one of the most closely monitored parts of our business with numerous safeguards to provide player security and encourage responsible play," continued Graydon.

Currently, 140,000 British Columbians have a registered account on PlayNow.com. Anyone currently enrolled in BCLC's Voluntary Self-Exclusion program at BC Casinos and gaming facilities will be automatically excluded from playing on PlayNow.com.

PlayNow.com has also put in place numerous safeguards including GameSense reminders on screen, easy access to odds and factual game information, a session log displaying the amount of time players have spent online, and a player pre-set deposit limit with a 24 hour restriction on increase requests.

PlayNow.com restricts play to British Columbians 19 years of age and older, and enables each player to select a suitable deposit limit. The website will operate within a secure environment which adheres to internationally recognized responsible gambling standards. Protection is provided by leading-edge security software.

BCLC achieved Level 4 accreditation in May 2010 from the World Lottery Association in recognition of the quality of its responsible gambling programs. This year's total provincial and BCLC budget for problem and responsible gambling programs is over $6.4 million. Problem gambling services are available to anyone who needs them at no cost and include clinical counselling and a 24-hour Problem Gambling Help Line.

OpenBet Ltd, a world leader in online gambling and betting solutions, was contracted to provide BCLC with gambling and betting software to offer the most competitive website possible. OpenBet supplies online gambling and betting technology solutions to operators and jurisdictions around the world.

/NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available at http://photos.newswire.ca. Images are free to accredited members of the media/

SOURCE BRITISH COLUMBIA LOTTERY CORPORATION

For further information: For further information: BCLC Public Affairs, (604) 276 6460, publicaffairs@bclc.com

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BRITISH COLUMBIA LOTTERY CORPORATION

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